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Natural disaster: Earthquake in Middle East – the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea demo is a large scale simulation around an earthquake in the Jordan valley in the area of the Dead Sea. The Jordan River valley is part of the Africa – Asia rift (from Kenya to Turkey) causing earthquakes associated with great loss of lives and damage (latest large-scale ones were in 1837 and 1927). An earthquake with an epicenter around the Dead Sea, with a magnitude of 7.0 in Richter scale, will have about 120 km diameter of damage, leaving many thousands dead, dozens of thousands injured and several millions living outdoors for a considerable period of time. Severe infrastructure damage will be associated with failures in power supply, communications and most important in water and sewage systems. Due to the region’s geography, the damage to the roads network might be associated with serious delays in the arrival of assistance to some affected communities. The earthquake will primarily affect Jordan, the Palestine Territory and Israel, a fact that will bring into the scenario the complexity of humanitarian response in a conflict environment. The history of the region raises also the need to protect human heritage that will be affected by the earthquake. The response to such an earthquake will require massive international assistance. The EU will be a key player as many EU countries are already present in the region with bilateral programs and due to the proximity of EU assets that can arrive in the region within 24 hours.

As 3 entities (Israel, Jordan and Palestine) will be involved, the rapid creation of a shared damage assessment (based on models and remote sensing, as well as “human sensors” on the field), sharing (and updating constantly) the situation’s picture, and coordinating the many involved in the response are serious challenges. Several EU means will provide an overall status information for the EU support management (satellites, databases and actors on the ground such as embassies). The response will be associated with major logistical challenges (as only 4 international airports exist in the area, 2 of them far from the affected area, and transportation capacities are limited), challenges dealing with large numbers of tourists and foreigners, the need to address the cultural diversity in the region and respect the many traditions and beliefs (some of them considered as vulnerable groups e.g. refugees as well as those being traditionally considered vulnerable as people with disability).

Other technical issues that should be tackled include: water supply, hygiene solutions, shelter solutions (3 million people who are expected to stay outdoors during the first month after the earthquake), and medical care for the many injured (coupled with serious damage to the healthcare infrastructure). The Jordan Valley demonstration will be the first time that a regional forum will discuss issues related to the response to such an event, and with the EU.

Some of the main challenges to be addressed include:

  • Creating, updating and disseminating a shared situational awareness;
  • Damage and needs assessment;
  • Response in the areas of health, water supply and hygiene, shelter;
  • Effective coordination of the international response;
  • Respect to culture and tradition, protecting human heritage.

The demonstration will involve local Associated Partners (JRCNS, APHS, DSNet) and regional end-users managed in a Regional Platform by MDA.